Our feet are one of the areas on the body most prone to fungal infections. Here’s why, and how to prevent and treat them.
Our feet work hard for us every day. This means that when something goes wrong with them, it can impact our entire lives by limiting our comfort or mobility. One such issue that is commonly encountered is tinea pedis, a contagious rash, also known as athlete’s foot.
But why are feet more susceptible to fungal infections when they spend so much time protected by footwear? The shoes themselves – or at least long periods of confinement in warm, moist environments – make for the ideal breeding ground for the fungi responsible for these types of conditions. Athlete’s foot is closely related to ringworm and jock itch and affects between 3% and 15% of the population at any given time.
Spotting the Fungal Infection Symptoms
How can you tell if your itchy feet are a result of athlete’s foot? The rash generally starts between the toes and then spreads further across the feet. Not only are these rashes itchy, but can cause a burning or stinging sensation as well.
It’s also very easy to spread! Transmission can occur via towels, clothing, and even dirty, contaminated floors. This is why many people opt to wear flops when showering at the gym. Treatment for fungal infections of the feet usually requires the use of topical creams or prescription medication. Even when treated, it can take up to six weeks for the infection to clear completely.
Athlete’s foot, and many other fungal infections, can be prevented. Here are five ways to do it for healthy, itch-free feet:
- Don’t share your shoes or wear anyone else’s
- Invest in footwear made from breathable materials
- Make sure that your feet, and between your toes, are dry after bathing
- Protect your feet from external fungi by covering them up in public spaces
- Change your socks regularly, especially after working out